The Los Angeles Clippers have made it no secret that they’re always pursuing potential deals that could make the team better. After all, they swung big for Paul George, and that doesn’t even take into account all the other trades they’ve made over the last few years. But according to The Athletic’s Shams Charania, don’t be too surprised if they make a run at another big time trade:
The Lakers, Knicks and Clippers are expected to be among the interested suitors if [Kyrie] Irving heads elsewhere, multiple sources tell The Athletic.
Kyrie Irving is no stranger to being in a massive deal. After all, the Cleveland Cavaliers traded him to the Boston Celtics in 2017 for what ended up being a couple players and a first round pick. That pick turned into Collin Sexton.
But this would represent a slightly different calculus. Irving, 30, missed most of this past season due to vaccine mandates in New York, logging only 29 games for the Nets in 2021-22. He played in all four of their postseason games, averaging 21.3 points, 5.3 rebounds and 5.3 assists on 44% shooting.
For his career, Irving is averaging 23.1 points, 5.7 assists and 3.8 rebounds on 47% shooting from the field and 38% on 3s.
Irving and the Nets have reached an “impasse” on contract discussions, according to Charania:
However, multiple sources tell The Athletic that conversations about Irving’s future have gone stagnant between him and the Nets. An impasse currently exists among the parties that clears the way for the seven-time All-Star to consider the open marketplace, those sources said.
As a result of the Nets and Irving essentially being unable to reach a common ground in negotiations, it’s opened up the door for other teams to potentially swoop in and make a play for Irving’s services, whether it be in free agency or with a trade.
Charania went on to detail what it would take for the Clippers to acquire Irving:
For the Clippers, the likely path to get Irving requires him to opt in, because they are significantly over both the luxury-tax line and the hard cap for 2022-23. To satisfy salary matching, the Clippers would need to send out between $29.3 million and $45.8 million to the Nets and/or a third team if Irving is the only salary headed their way. The Clippers’ scenario is less complicated than the Lakers, as the Clippers have a series of players making $11 million to $17 million to work with. For example, two or three of Norman Powell, Marcus Morris, Luke Kennard and Reggie Jackson going out satisfies the CBA’s trade rules, and they also have a collection of young players like Terance Mann or Brandon Boston who could help sweeten the deal.
The pathway to Irving ending up on the Clippers is rather simple: if Irving opts into the final year of his contract by June 29 then the Clippers’ chances of trading for Irving greatly improve, and the two sides can then potentially discuss player packages. If Irving opts out of the final year of his deal and hits free agency, there’s no way the Clippers can acquire him since they would not have the requisite cap space and a sign-and-trade wouldn’t be feasible due to Los Angeles being so far over the hard cap as it is.
Irving was someone Clippers’ star Kawhi Leonard tried to recruit with him to Los Angeles before the trade for George was made in 2019, according to ESPN’s Zach Lowe.
The league’s quietest superstar “found his voice,” as one executive put it. He recruited George, [Kevin] Durant and even Kyrie Irving at points, sources say.
We’ll know a lot more over the next 10 days or so, which is when Irving needs to make a decision about his player option. But for now, the Clippers are in the game — for whatever that’s worth.
Update #1: In his latest Substack newsletter on Wednesday, prominent reporter Marc Stein gave insight into any potential Irving-to-Clippers thoughts:
The overwhelming expectation among rival teams is that establishing the Lakers, Clippers and Knicks as potential Irving suitors earlier this week was aimed at trying to goad the Nets into offering Irving a more lucrative long-term deal.
In essence, this could all be a leverage play by Irving and his group in order to land the point guard a better offer than what the Brooklyn Nets originally want to give out.
Update #2: Adrian Wojnarowski, ESPN’s resident rumor sleuth, reported on Thursday that the Los Angeles Clippers are indeed on the “list of teams” that Kyrie Irving would “like [the Nets] to consider on sign-and-trades.”
As we’ve outlined up above in this piece, the Clippers nabbing Irving via sign-and-trade is essentially impossible, so that’s not much to go on. However, what is notable is the next tweet that Wojnarowski fired off:
Those are teams who Irving has interest in, but he isn’t necessarily a priority for all of them, sources said.— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) June 23, 2022
So while Irving and the Nets continue to play out their little dysfunction for the world to see, not all of the teams that Irving has interest in see acquiring the point guard as “necessarily a priority.” We’ll just have to keep monitoring what news breaks next. It seems like this is never going to end.
This story will continue to be updated as new information is unearthed, but would you like to see Kyrie Irving in a Clipper uniform? Let us know in the comments below.